4.22.2009

Van Hollen's memo is straight-shooting common sense

There has been a lot of confusion for some reason over Attorney General Van Hollen's memo asserting the right to open carry in Wisconsin.

I'm not exactly sure what's so difficult here, but it seems that a lot of the liberal blogs in the state are scratching their heads or mocking Van Hollen. I read the memo. I was happy that the AG affirmed our state constitutional right to open carry a firearm if we want.

Van Hollen states quite clearly that this right is not absolute and those who carry are not immune from being asked questions by police. The thrust of the memo is meant to clarify that the mere fact of carrying a firearm does not qualify as disorderly conduct without additional facts. The disorderly conduct statute had been used to effectively eliminate any right to carry and this memo clarifies state law.

It's really pretty straight forward. The memo pretty clearly allows police to question why someone is carrying. Chief Flynn's statements are not in dischord with the AG's. Indeed, the memo reads:
"'even when officers have no basis for suspecting a particular individual, they may generally ask questions of that individual, [and] ask to examine the individual's identification,' as long as the police do not convey a message that compliance is mandatory."
So where's the confusion? We can go to the heart of Chief Flynn's comments - the Milwaukee homicide rate - and the memo still works:
"An officer may stop and briefly detain a person for investigative purposes ... if he has “reasonable suspicion,” based on articulable facts, of criminal activity. ... Even though open carry enjoys constitutional protection, it may still give rise to reasonable suspicion when considered in totality. It is not a shield against police investigation or subsequent prosecution."
It seems the crime rate in Milwaukee would contribute to a "reasonable suspicion." Also, let me be clear that I am not criticizing Chief Flynn, but rather the morons who are trying to create controversy or conflict where none seems to exist.

The liberal reaction is predictable. They go off half-cocked about the examples Van Hollen uses in the memo, but don't address the substance of it. Van Hollen's examples may be the extreme, but anyone who has read Supreme Court opinions or other legal memos and decisions know that extreme, blatant examples of good/bad conduct is normal for legal opinions.

Predictably, Gov. Doyle is calling for local municipalities to pass their own restrictions on open carry. State Rep. Leon Young is planning to introduce legislation to block it statewide. Only problem with both of these positions is that pesky thing called the constitution. It clearly states: The people have the right to keep and bear arms for security, defense, hunting, recreation or any other lawful purpose. If this is to have any meaning at all, Wisconsinites must be able to carry in some form or another. Since concealed carry is banned by statute, open carry is the only legally available option.

Go ahead and read the memo for yourself. It is pretty straightforward that simply carrying a firearm in public does not in and of itself constitute disorderly conduct, but advises police to use common sense when they see someone carrying.

Maybe it's that common sense thing that's getting liberals hung up.